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Punchestown Festival is finally here. The eight-race schedule – featuring three Grade 1s – kicks off the five-day fiesta on Tuesday.
Top pundit Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power Trader Frank Hickey assessed the Punchestown card on the latest edition of Paddy Power’s From the Horses Mouth podcast, ahead of this week’s showcase Festival that brings the curtain down on the Irish jumps season.
There are plenty of horses you could make a case for here. Jordan Gainford claims 7lbs for Denise Foster on One Down. He looked to be on a bit of a run recently, however, he was disappointing on his last start.
The one I like is Scholastic for Joseph O’Brien. She was a good third at Fairyhouse behind Jeff Kidder and Teahupoo. Scholastic has run at Cheltenham since, where he finished second in the juvenile hurdle. Scholastic is going the right way and is my fancy.
I’m a bit surprised that Paul Townend opted for stablemate Blue Lord. He did run really well at Cheltenham until falling at the last in the Supreme Novices Hurdle, but Echoes In Rain has been on a rapid upward rise. Paul has ridden them both but I think he may have picked wrong! I’m siding with Echoes In Rain instead.
Magic Tricks was unlucky at Fairyhouse earlier this month. He made a mistake at the last and he just lost too much ground and was unable to recover in time. Apart from that mistake, he probably should have won there but can make up for it now. He looks the one to beat.
Allaho was such an impressive winner of the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham but there’s no 2,4f race at Punchestown to suit him. The only other option was to go to Aintree, but he had such a hard race at Cheltenham that meeting came too soon. Hopefully he’s over the exertions of Cheltenham but you don’t know until you run and Willie Mullins line of thinking was that the way he jumps – so fast and slick – he’s more like a two-mile chaser rather than a three-mile chaser.
However, Paul Townend’s conviction and belief in Chacun Pour Soi has definitely persuaded me that he’s as good as ever. I thought he was very disappointing at Cheltenham and he should have won but he faded on the run-in.
Paul is convinced that we haven’t seen the best of Chacun Pour Soi and was in no doubt about who he’d ride of the two. That’s swayed me away from Allaho and towards Chacun Pour Soi.
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Hemlock has to improve from his run at Clonmel, where he finished fifth, but Willie Mullins wanted him to get a run under his belt.
Adamantly Chosen, with Jody Townend on board, goes nicely at home too. I’ve been watching them galloping but ordinarily Willie wouldn’t think about running these bumper horses until next October. I don’t think it’s a contest to get too heavily involved in to be honest.
I can’t pick the winner of this – I’m on the fence. It’s a race for the purists and I can’t wait to watch it!
There are doubts whether Envoi Allen will stay the three-mile trip, but he has to if he’s to achieve the ultimate goal in winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He moved yards from Gordon Elliott’s to Henry de Bromhead’s two weeks before he fell at Cheltenham and was probably a little fresh. He fell because he’d never made a mistake before and he didn’t know how to steady himself. I can forgive him that.
Monkfish was hit and miss at Cheltenham in his jumping – but he still got the job done.
This will come down to how the race is run. Monkfish is an assured stayer and he’s won over three mile a couple of times. Envoi Allen looks to be faster.
If they go fast enough and it turns into a stamina test, then Monkfish should win. If it steadies up and a change of gears is required, it could be there for the taking for Envoi Allen.
Youcannotbeserious hasn’t ran since he was second in this contest in 2019. It looks liked he’s been aimed at this race and Derek O’Connor will ride. He has enough form to win this race.
Hara Kiri is a very fast horse, but the ground at Gowran Park was probably too heavy for him. He’ll appreciate the better ground now.
Willie Mullins also has Glowing Account who has a really strong Flat pedigree but he’s a reserve at time of writing and needs something to drop out before he gets a run.
Read More On The Punchestown Festival
- Everything you need to know about the 2021 Punchestown Festival
- Timeform’s 5 to keep the dream alive at Punchestown
- Ruby Walsh previews Monkfish vs Envoi Allen dream match-up
- Ruby Walsh’s best antepost bets for the Punchestown Festival